We left Brixworth behind on Saturday 29th July and headed for Gwenfor Bach in Treletert North Pembrokeshire, a 1-bedroom airbnb bungalow hosted by Kim, which was fully furnished with plenty of food for breakfast.
Our route took us along the M50 past Ross-on-Wye, along the A40, Abergaveny, Llandovery and Camarthan. We stopped at Dinefwr castle (NT), which overlooks the River Towy, near the town of Llandielo. (250 miles.)
It was raining as we waited the next morning for the Stena Europa ferry from Fishguard at 2pm although the crossing was smooth and we arrived in Rosslare at 5.30pm. Our next stop was Cosy Cottage, Denistown near Waterford county Wexford, a 2-bedroom airbnb this time hosted by Angela who was on hand when we arrived to welcome us and gave us an insight into the history of the cottage. (37 miles.)
On Monday (day 3) we set off for the Hook Head Lighthouse, which is the oldest working lighthouse in the world.
We took the Ballyhack ferry across the river Barrow and onto our next stop for 2 nights in Blarney, which was a 1-bedroom airbnb cottage called Humblebee. We visited Blarney Castle, which used the old tram station to form the entrance and car park, but we passed on kissing the blarney stone as Gill said I talk too much already!! (131 miles.)
Tuesday (day 4) we did a round trip to Kinsale at the start of the Wild Atlantic Way, where we headed off for the Dromberg megalithic stone circle at Rosscarberry.
On our return to Blarney via Clonakilty, a multi-award winning cosmopolitan and friendly seaside town at the heart of West Cork, we stopped for lunch at De Barras Folk Club, which has a live music venue in the evenings. We drove through Timoleague and down to the Old Head of Kinsale signal tower, which is the closest point (11.5 miles) to the site of the Lusitania, which was sunk by a German U-boat on 7th May 1915. (133 miles).
Wednesday (day 5) was the drive down the Mizen Peninsular via Skibbereen and Schull, and a scary walk over the windswept footbridge to the Mizen Head signal station, which is the most south-westerly point in Ireland.
We continued along the R591 past Three Castle Head and up to the start of the Sheep’s Head peninsula with a nice walk to the viewing point. We took the L4704 to Bantry and on to our next stop for 4 days at Pear Tree House, Kilgarvan, a secluded 1-bedroom airbnb cottage called Shandrum Garden Annex with lovely views. (188 miles.)
Thursday (day 6) we set off to drive the ring of Beara starting at Glengarriff, down to Castletownbere and then onto Ballaghboy where there is the only cable car in Ireland which takes you over to the Dursey island, and which looks more like a garden shed with cables going through it.
The photographs show there was very little traffic on these excellent surfaced roads.
The R571 took us to Kenmare and then onto the R569 and back to our cottage. (121 miles.)
Friday (day 7) we drove via Kenmare and the N70 to Parknasilla for a coffee stop at the Parknasilla Resort.
This is part of the Ring of Kerry and we spent the next couple of days driving various parts of it. The first drive was via Sneem and the Kerry Cliffs, which offer stunning views across the Atlantic with birds clinging to exposed ledges and waves crashing on the rocks below. We returned along the N70 and turned right just past Glenbeigh onto a little road by the side of lake Caragh and onto a road that took us over MacGillycuddy’s Reeks through Ballaghbeama Gap. The mountains peak at over 1000 metres and the road is narrow and winding but nevertheless a good surface. We made our way on the N71 through Molls Gap and back to our cottage, stopping off at the Kilgarvan Motor Museum, which has an interesting mixture of old vehicles. (78 miles.)
Saturday (day 8) we retraced our steps through Molls Gap and followed the N71 to Ladies View a stunning scenic viewpoint of mountains and lakes. The name stems from the admiration of the view given by Queen Victoria's ladies-in-waiting during their 1861 visit.
We continued on to the very popular Muckross House and Gardens, but lunch was taken at the equally lovely Muckross House Hotel before the return to our cottage (77 miles.)
Sunday (day 9) we headed off to our next home for 1 night, which was in Listowel overlooking the Feale valley (i3014). We took the N71 at Kenmare once again and onto the N72 to Killorglin and onto the R561 at Castlemaine. This road takes you down by the side of the Slieve Mish Mountains and onto Inch Beach. Having dipped our toes in the water,
we continued down the Dingle peninsular and further down to Slea Head. Continuing round the R559 we passed Kruger’s Bar, Irelands most westerly pub, which was buzzin’,
and then onto the R549 which lead back to Dingle where we took the Conor Pass (R560) with stunning views and then the N86 to Tralee. The N69 took us to our 2-bedroom airbnb bungalow in Listowel. (210 miles.)
Monday (Day 10) we used the R523 and R521 the next morning to Foynes where there is a Flying boat museum, which unfortunately wasn’t open.
Taking the N69 to Tarbert is a continuation of the route and is very industrial and not very scenic but the ferry across the Shannon River took us to Kilimer, onto Kilrush and then down the L2016 to Carrigaholt where there is a lovely beach. The R487 then took us to the Loop Head Lighthouse where we enjoyed a picnic in the sunshine and an after lunch stroll to the headland, more dramatic and vertical rocks with birds clinging to the ledges.
We retraced our steps and took the L2009 to the dramatic Kilkee Cliffs,
which are more spectacular, in our opinion, than the Cliffs of Moher, then on the N69 to Doonbeg.
Our next accommodation was at the Atlantic View Hotel at Doolin overlooking the Cliffs of Moher. The hotel, B&B only, has 8 en-suite rooms and ours had a good view of the cliffs till sun down. It was only a short distance to the popular boat trips that take you out to the cliffs and also to the Aran Islands at the mouth of Galway Bay. (136 miles.)
Tuesday (day 11) we drove up the R477and onto the N67 around Galway Bay, through Galway and onto the R363 to Cashel House Gardens, which were over grown and the hotel could not even provide us with a cup of tea. The luxury hotel Ballynahinch Castle via the R342 was, by contrast, very welcoming with wonderful gardens, easy parking and a well stocked garden café.
We continued our journey on the N59 back to Maam Cross, onto the R336 and then an unnamed road to our stop for the next 3 nights at The Artists Cottage, Connemara, which was a large 2-bedroom character cottage with 2 bathrooms and 2 receptions. (113 miles.)
Wednesday (day 12) we had our first rest day and a short drive to Ashford Castle in Cong for afternoon tea in the Connaught room. Fine views along the lochs and excellent parking outside the castle hotel (39 miles.)
Thursday (day 13) we headed for Leenane and onto the Aasleagh Falls, which are not very high but provide a nice riverside walk to view the falls.
We then drove back along the N59 to Kylemore Abbey, which is an amazing place and well worth a visit.
We would have spent time looking around the gardens but unfortunately it started raining very hard just as we came out so decided to leave that for next time and set off back to our cottage. (81miles.)
This was where we left The Wild Atlantic Way as we had run out of time on this occasion, but we hope to be back to drive the Northern half before too long.
£1491 Accommodation (= average £115/night).
Friday (day 14) we drove to Belfast and stayed with friends for the weekend. (238 miles.)
Monday (day 17) took the ferry from Belfast to Cairnryan on Stena Superfast VIII. We paid a little extra and had one of the 6 suites, which was as well appointed as a club class cabin on Queen Victoria! with wardrobe space for weeks of trips. We then drove the short distance to The Castle Hotel in Stranraer where we had a lovely view up Loch Ryan and a nice sunset. (34 miles.)
Tuesday (day 18) A drive along the A75 to Gretna Green for lunch, a stride along the M6 to Pooley Bridge and onto the A66 to stay with friends for a few days in Thirsk. (206 miles.)
Thursday (day 20) onto home in Brixworth to start planning the next trip. (168 miles.)
2230 miles in total
108.5 gallons of E10 fuel (E5 not available in Ireland since July 2023) = 20.55 miles/gallon
Average price £1.56/litre, £7/gallon.
£760 of fuel
Food: Apart from a couple of meals out and afternoon tea at Ashford Castle (£59 each) food was similar price to home, as we were self-catering.